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  1. #1
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    Question Wood Pile Blanks - How to treat new wood

    Goood DAY!

    I know there is some advice out here on how to treat wood that has just been cut down to be used for turning. I have an opportunity to get ahold of some maple, walnut and others from around my area. Just want to know what to do to get the best results.

    jim
    Turned Around in Idaho
    Jim

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  3. #2
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    Hi Jim!

    I'm going through this very thing right now, and what I've learned so far is:

    (some of this may seem super-common sense, but bear with me)

    1. The smaller the piece, the faster the drying process - which means that there's more potential for warping/checking. I've been reluctant to Anchor seal and such, as I'm afraid of prolonging the drying stage.
    2. The harder the wood, the more potential for cracking/checking. The box elder I've been working with is a fairly soft hardwood, so I've not been too concerned, but for harder stuff, I'd be careful about drying too fast.
    3. Buy a moisture meter right away (I got a digital percentage 4-prong one off Ebay that is working very well for $30, shipped. Compared to my brother's $400 Delmhorst (he's a basement waterproofer/concrete/block foundation reconstruction type), it's dead-on accurate. This thing allows you to monitor the drying process for speed, stress on wood and final 'turnability'. I've turned some at 15% moisture, and it seems like the 10% stuff is about perfect for finishing without ghosting
    4. You can accelerate drying in the microwave by nuking about 6 blanks for 30 seconds, let cool for 10 minutes and repeat. About 3 dozen times. Be careful, they'll catch fire if put in too long. I just nuke them long enough to bring the moisture out to the surface and then place them in front of a fan to evaporate.
    5. I aim to cut all my blanks to 1"x1". At only 5 1/2 - 6", at this girth, they can only warp so much, and even with a bent blank you can mill it down to 3/4"x3/4" and not lose your bushing profile.
    6. Make yourself a good drying rack, if you get any quantity of wood, you'll need the room. You can get a lot of blanks out of a 12"x6"x3" chunk.
    7. If you're taking them from raw trees, always chainsaw-rip a flat side to work with on circular and band saws. Round stock is really dangerous to work with on round, spinning blades.
    Hope this helps!
    "If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried." - Stephen Wright

  4. #3
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    Jim,

    Paint the ends of the blanks. Here in Aus they crack in a couple of days if you dont. You can always turn em with the paint on or stash them away as is your want. I bought a specific end sealer but Ive heard household enamel paint works just as well.

    There are plenty of threads on the forum about this subject, Im sure you will find what you're looking for,

    Sebastiaan
    "We must never become callous. When we experience the conflicts ever more deeply we are living in truth. The quiet conscience is an invention of the devil." - Albert Schweizer

    My blog. http://theupanddownblog.blogspot.com

  5. #4
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    Yup, this is a well covered topic.

    Basically, if you have some largish logs from a freshly felled tree:
    • split them in half down the pith line.
    • strip the bark, if possible
    • seal all end grain, including lopped branches. Some woods, inc. most fruit trees, should be sealed all over!
    • put 'em aside in a dry and well-ventilated position that stays at a more or less constant temp all year 'round, for about 1 year for every inch of thickness.


    As Karl said, microwaving is a good option for quick drying, but I'd only use it on pieces that "must" be done now. (eg. if you can't wait to see how a new wood comes out. )

    If I was Karl, I'd be sealing most of those pen blanks all over (by simply dipping in melted wax) and putting them aside - even sealed, they'll be ready within a year. I'd keep a few aside for nuking and turning quickly, sure. But I reckon he's dreaming if he reckons he'll go through his whole tree in under a year!

    There's plenty of info here on all the above processes if you do a search.
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc (AKA "Ghost who posts." )

  6. #5
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    no need to answer about my garvillia logs thanks all

  7. #6
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    I have heard of blokes placing Pen Blanks in the freezer for a week, thawing them in paper towel over night and repeating for another week, Also mix up 50/50 dishwashing liquard and water and soak the timber in there for a few days the dishwashing liquard draws the moisture out and soaks into the cells to stop the cellular collaps that causes warps and shrinkage. the new blanks are easy to turn and leave hands SUper soft and fresh smelling

  8. #7
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    There are as many methods to drying timber as to finishing them a few have been mentioned. Others are boiling, nuking the in a microwave a drying cabinet and DNA soaking is a process as well. The guys before me have covered the subject well. The other thing that I use to seal blanks and I'm with Skew on this, pen blanks total cover, is with either Mobilseal or the log end seal I get from my local woodworking supplies. It is like a pva glue but drys to a clear wax film over the timber.
    Darren

  9. #8
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    Yep. Mobilcer is the bees' knees of sealers, IMHO. But unless you're buying in bulk - doing a LOT of sealing or going shares with other woodies - it works out rather expensive.

    Wax (I should've said paraffin wax in my last post ) is a cheaper option for small scale sealing, or you can even use left over oil-based paint, a home-brew turps/polysterene mix or any one of a hundred other alternatives. Almost anything is better than nothing.

    But Mobilcer is still the best.
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc (AKA "Ghost who posts." )

  10. #9
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    I just ordered a couple gallons of Anchor Seal, which sounds to be the same as your 'mobilcer'. I've used it to seal end cuts on deck wood and such. It goes on looking like white glue and dries clear and waxy.

    Now, here's the rub with my blanks: How do I seal the diagonal cut stuff? I mean, the end grain is two whole sides of the blanks, plus the ends. Isn't that going to delay the drying time?

    So far, on that first run I did a few weeks back, all of the blanks are at 10-15% moisture (love my new little digital moisture meter, makes me sound all professional-like), and I haven't seen the first check. I haven't sealed the blanks at all, just stacked and stickered with about 3/4" of space between the rows of blanks. I've been running a couple of 24" cyclone fans on my drying racks and have the racks in an air-conditioned, humidity controlled environment. (Interpret: my living room, recently converted to my shop support area...)

    Aside from some minor warping, they are as strong as when I cut them. The warping doesn't seem to be an issue, as I cut most all of the blanks to 1x1", so there's plenty of room for drilling even the big kits.

    My plan is to seal the blanks when they get to about 8% moisture with the Anchor Seal to keep them from going bone-dry and checking. They've been drying faster than I can find time to market and organize them, so I've just been milling milling milling. Eventually in a decade or so, I should be done cutting them up and can just focus on organizing them into lots and selling.

    I picked up all the parts (plus enough for an extra-large size tent for detailed blank set pics) for building my PVC pipe light tent, I just have to spend an hour or so and build it, and then put together all the leftover cabinet lumber I have sitting around for some nice big UNCLUTTERED work areas. I swear, every flat spot in my shop (er, 'shed') is covered in pen kit and blank shrapnel, hastily printed online tutorials (complete with coffee rings, scribbles and doodles from testing completed pens, and superglue splashes), paper towel wads, little bottles of every chemical known to the woodworking world, and the omnipresent layer of multi-colored dust/ship calico mix.
    I can't wait to have a dedicated shipping/marketing/photo area.

    I think I've finally made the progression to a full-fledged pen addict. The other day at work there was something itching my foot, and when I investigated at lunch, I found one of those little baggies in my sock. After it had gone through the wash. The first time I find a used CA/BLO paper towel 'foldie' in my shorts, I'm going to seek professional help.

    I have a really good Nikon, I just have to learn how to mess with arpeture/shutter speed, lighting, f-stops and whatever other cool photography terms that I can find but have no idea about.

    Sound like a plan?
    "If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried." - Stephen Wright

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